“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.” -1 Thessalonians 5:11
I want to share a story about a recent experience while commuting. I pulled into a coffee shop drive thru and ordered. I was pondering about COVID and how to balance providing our clients all the services they need (rent/utility assistance, adoption home studies, rapid housing for homeless veteran, senior housing, on and on) while keeping our employees and clients safe. When I pull up to the window to pay, still deep in thought, I reached for my money and she said it was taken care of by the car in front of me. At that moment I received a jolt much more powerful than the caffeine in the coffee would provide. I enjoyed a second jolt when paying for the person behind me, hopefully giving them the same joy, I experienced. I am sure many reading this have experienced a similar random act of kindness. But on that morning, those simples act of giving and receiving was exactly what I needed to get me through my day.
The Board of Directors and my executive staff met with Bishop Johnston this week. He shared a biblical comparison of giving and receiving love using the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee. He eloquently conveyed that, because Jesus first loved, we too are called to love. He compared Jesus’ love to that of flowing water and spoke of how Jesus and his disciples preached and fished at the sea of Galilee, which was and is still full of life. The fish and the gifts from the sea filled them, because the Sea of Galilee is not stagnant. The water of life flows into it and back out (unlike the Dead Sea which only receives and does not give). We are all called not only to receive the healing waters of Christ, but to give as well. This is the mission of Catholic Charities and a core tenant of Catholic Social Teaching.
As we all know, everyone needs encouragement from time to time. The same goes for the men and women who come to Catholic Charities in their hour of need. We’ve learned when someone takes the time to contact us by letting them share their story, compassionately listening and validating the difficulty of their situation is so valuable to their spirit.
Taking care of physical needs is the goal of our Welcome Center’s emergency assistance program. Food on the table and paid up electric bills are critical to caring for a family and their ability to provide for themselves. Just as importantly, we don’t discount the spiritual need to be encouraged and lifted up. Often, that moment of uplift allows someone to find the ability within them to work with a case manager, set life goals and meet them, and over time, develop the skills to become self-sufficient.
As we have had significant increases with more and more clients coming in requesting help and financial support due to COVID, one of our teams started sending out random notes of kindness to other employees. As the workloads are continuing to rise, I’m so proud of our staff who genuinely live the directive from St. Paul to encourage and build others up on a daily basis. Especially as this pandemic continues to be a disruptor in our lives, kind words and listening ears can make a huge difference. As Christ first loved us, we are commanded to give the love of Christ to others. I am enclosing one of the uplifting notes from our staff so that you too may have a moment of encouragement.
Karen Noel, CEO